Students said they gained experience writing, directing, acting and staging sets in a series of original One-Act Plays put on towards the end of the Spring 2018 Semester during a four-night, One-Act Festival entitled Ka Pā ‘Ani. The festival was organized by BYU-Hawaii’s Music and Theatre Department and held in the McKay Auditorium from June 13 to 16.
“This is my first time ever acting so I was nervous,” said Joseph Reuben II, a senior from Fiji studying IT who acted in one of the plays. “The role was okay. It was simple and just acting in it was fun.… I would definitely do it again in the future. I was one of those people like, ‘Oh acting? Nah, that’s not me.’ But when I did it for the first time, it was actually good. I know I’m going to be doing this again.”
Reuben’s advice to those who have not participated in theater was, “If you like it, do it. At first I was intimidated, but I ended up enjoying it.”
Another actor in the plays, Sam Clayton, a junior from Colorado majoring in business marketing, said of the One-Act Festival, “This is a series of plays rather than a big one. These are all original pieces, written and directed by students, sharing student viewpoints. Many of the plays are dealing with student perspectives on heavy topics.”
Audience members and actors alike said they liked how heavy themes like sexual assault were balanced in the One-Act Plays with moments of light-hearted humor.
Elder King, a senior missionary from Utah, said, “The variety was very interesting. You had the lighthearted humor, and then some pretty serious stuff too. I honestly prefer humor, but there were pretty important things we got to hear, and I’m glad we came. We love live theater.”
Hailey Johnson, a junior from Idaho studying humanities, came on the first and second night to support her friends who were in the plays. “The sensitive topics were, I think, really good to show,” she said, because sometimes people “don’t really want to talk about stuff that’s actually happening. It’s really good to show people…what’s really going on in the world. But, there was also lots of humor. The last play was really funny.”
Each of the One-Act Plays were performed twice over four nights in the auditorium, and the plays were divided into Nights A and B and then repeated on two more consecutive nights.
Noelle Oldham, a senior from Florida studying theater, acted in “Opposites Attract” on Night B and directed “Twice as Much” on Night A. She said “Twice as Much” is “a piece written by Carly Stone, another student at BYUH. It is a show about moving on from a loss of someone.”
Oldham sad she “heard about the One-Act Festival because I was in the playwriting class and wanted to direct. I love theater so much and it's my major, so I had to be part of this.”
Oldham discussed her own experience in theater. “I've been acting from a young age, but this is my first time directing a play. This festival is definitely different from anything we've done here before because all the plays were written by students. Not only that, all the plays are directed by students as well.”
Talking about the time and effort that went into the production of the plays, Oldham said she was asked to do extra scene work a week before the plays were performed. She said she had to study the plays and characters quickly, but she said the directing process took the most time.
Oldham said the actors also only had a short amount of time to memorize their lines and be ready to perform. “We only had a month to rehearse. Then we only had one night of tech,” she said, “and then we had to perform. It was a lot of work, and a lot of people who are performing are new to theater, but you can see how great they were on stage and how much fun it is. A lot of times people think theater is easy, but it’s a lot of hard work. But it’s so worth it in the end.”
Oldham added why she thinks those interested in theater should join next time. “I think anyone can be cut out for theater. I feel like in the music and art industry, it’s looked down upon. But theater really draws everybody together, and it makes you express yourself in ways you never thought possible. I feel everyone should give it a chance.”
One of the audience’s favorite moments in the plays was a humorous character named Steve-O played by Van Ah Puck. He is from Hawaii but is taking a break from school. When going to BYUH, he majored in Hawaiian studies and hospitality and tourism.
Ah Puck explained how he prepared for the role. “It’s an island-based play, and since I’m from here, it was kind of easy for me to adapt. It wasn’t that hard, but it still was a challenge to remember the lines. I really liked the script. I fell in love with the play the first time we read it.”
As people walked by him after the performance, they made comments to him such as, “You were great Steve-O.” “You were my favorite.” “You are the true star,” and “Steve-O for president.”
Clayton said he played three different characters in three shows and shared the personalities of each of his characters. “My character in ‘Opposites Attract’ is Pops. He is stern and gruff. He wants to provide for his family but maybe is misguided, and he is slightly disappointed in his son. In ‘The End in the Library,’ I play Stuart, a nerdy bookworm who is crushing on the new girl. The last character I play is Chris, in ‘Love Languages.’ He is pretty cool but slightly intimidated by girls.”
Clayton talked about his background in theater and how he got involved in the festival. “I've done multiple shows here at BYU-Hawaii. So far, I have been in ‘Camelot,’ ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ and ‘Solana.’ I enjoyed those experiences so I try to be pretty involved in the theater program. I heard pretty early from the Densleys about the festival. [Kristl Densley is an English and Theatre professor.] However, I wasn't planning on auditioning. I told myself I would take a break for a semester. But on the day of auditions, I had lots of friends who told me to audition. So about an hour before auditions ended, my will crumbled. What can I say? Theater is fun.”
Sabrina Domrique, a freshman from Oklahoma majoring in peacebuilding, also acted in the plays. “I play two characters from different shows. The first character I play is the Victim in ‘Counting Elephants,’ and the second character I play is Child 3 in ‘Waiting for Superman.’”
Domrique said in “Waiting for Superman,” she plays “a bully to the main character but comes to enjoy him in the end. Whereas in ‘Counting Elephants,’ I play Victim. Victim is a silent role. She is a girl who has been raped and can’t quite tell her story on her own.”
She said she started working in theatre at age 13. “When I heard some of my friends were auditioning to the one acts,” she said, “I was inclined to join them.”